Northern Dragon

… life in the twilight years of modern-day democracy …

Be Careful What You Wish For

Northern Dragon © 2019. All rights reserved.

Humans are marvellously adaptable. It is common to hear that it is our brains which have made us what we are today – the dominant species on the planet. But really it is our ability to adapt, to carry on whatever the odds and challenges, which is our main strength. The brain – is merely a tool to that end. It helps us adapt and make do.

But this ability to make the best of everything is also why so many of us simply accept things as they are, rather than try to change them. We live in the “now”, in the moment, and because we have adapted to it, it feels totally natural…

Yes, there are people who are obscenely wealthy – and so what? I have my life to live… Sure, some news channels are more propaganda than news, but how does that affect me?… OK, the president is an inveterate liar but I can live with that… Yeah, too bad about the oceans being swamped with plastic but it’s not my plastic…

But surely some things are fundamental, aren’t they? Surely, there are certain key values upon which we can all agree and which we all want to preserve?

Um… maybe. But if there are, I haven’t met them yet. Democracy? Some 25% of the youths in the States actually think democracy is a really bad way to run a country. Religion – don’t make me laugh. The value of human life? Tell me again about the incarceration of innocent children whose parents happen to try to cross the border into the States – or how immigrants are treated generally throughout the world? Liberty? Yeah, right – we are now in the 13th consecutive year of decline in global freedom.

So yes, I guess it’s fair to say: “Tastes differ,” and it seems like some people really do prefer to live in a military dictatorship rather than in a democracy.

Are they wrong to think so?

Well, it depends. A dictatorship – by whichever name – can easily be significantly better to live in than a democracy. Democracies are notoriously short-sighted and quite inefficient: their politicians usually do not care about much else than how to get elected for the next period, and they spend a lot of time wrangling and squabbling instead of making the necessary and proper decisions the country needs. As the climate crisis shows, democracies are chronically unable to make any effective decisions if the consequences fall more than a couple of elections into the future. They simply fail to take it seriously.

A dictatorship does not have that issue. A good dictator could just make a snap decision, pass the required laws and launch a major campaign to re-engineer the economy – or whatever. No need to worry about how to get a majority in the parliament or whether so or so many people will get hurt or be out of a job; just make the decision, and that’s it.

Yes, a good dictatorship will beat a democracy any time.

However… a bad dictatorship will be like living in a horror movie. And not one of those cutesie little things you see in the movie theatres today either, where bad things happen to characters on a screen. No, a bad dictatorship is waking up each morning in a society where you have no rights. The government doesn’t care shit about you. The police beat you up for fun and take your children away to labour camps. And you have absolutely no prospects in life except for grovelling abjectly before your masters and hope they don’t notice your beautiful wife…

And you know what? A bad dictatorship is going to happen – sooner or later. And there is absolutely nothing you will be able to do about it. Because the only people who can do anything are those who are in power – and they are not going to be listening to you. Why should they? You are not living in a democracy any more, so they sure couldn’t care less about what you may think.

A bad dictatorship is what happens when your good dictator dies, and his son takes over…

If, that is, you are lucky enough to have a good dictator at all the first time around. And luck is really all you have to pray for; you sure won’t have a vote…

Categories: Reflection

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12 replies

  1. That ability to adapt has stood humans in good stead since we evolved from Cro Magnon Man or Neanderthal man, depending on what you believe of pre-history. However, it can have the down side of becoming blaze about the bigger picture stuff like politics. So many folks are disenchanted and have kind of given up, even in a country where voting is compulsory. But if it were not compulsory – then it is easy picking for a charismatic dictator.
    I am shocked to read, although I inherently knew, that we are in our 13th year of decline of freedom. I find it inherently sad that the aspirations of the seventies have been eroded so much. I find it hard to believe that we have ended up with a conservative voting youth! I know the reasons but still find it hard to comprehend that they want to progress backwards!
    Your description of modern politics is spot on! They can not or refuse to see the bigger picture. I heard the Ex CEO of BP on the radio yesterday advocating for a carbon tax as a way to address the global environment issues equally – and I lamented how it was introduced – only for it to be repealed later due to political pressures. Australia is oen off world’s highest polluter of carbon if not the highest. (probably coming from burning coal….)
    But I digress…. A dictator could introduce whatever tax he wanted as history teaches us. But the voting public can not see the wood for the trees.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Unfortunately , IB indulges in serious moderation of my comments.

    If the belief is all that matters then why do you think historians give no credence to similar miracle claims by Muslims, that Mohammed flew to Jerusalem on a winged horse, for example?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am aware that historians do like to investigate “did this really happen”. But that does not mean that it makes sense to do so. Or maybe, rather, I should say that there are two types of “historical science”? That may actually be more precise.

      We have the “classical history,” which deals with what happened – from the point of view of people. For that kind of history, it makes no difference whether something actually happened or whether people just believed it did: what matters is how it affected their lives, how they reacted to it, what they did, etc…

      And then, there is the “historical investigator.” The investigator wants to find out what actually, physically happened. Which… well, begs the question, “why?” I think, in most cases you will find that the investigator wants to write a book, gain some fame, or similar. Investigating, say, what happened around Tut-ankh-amon’s murder could make a thrilling book. But would it make any difference, from a historical point of view? I cannot see it – except (!) that the investigation itself may result in more knowledge of how people reacted to and were affected by what happened.
      Likewise with the resurrection of Christ; whether it happened or not, there is no doubt that millions of people were affected by the belief in it. And virtually none affected by the actual physical incident (or lack of same).

      As I haven’t ever heard of Muhammed flying to Jerusalem on a winged horse, I would say the same of that… 😉 But I could be wrong – it may be more important for a muslim, of course.

      PS: as for moderation – I remove spam, and I ban people who are abusive. I do not moderate people who just disagree with me. You are welcome to communicate here.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The main point of my original post was to see if people thought that Historians who are Christian can be truly objective when it comes to the history of their religion and primarily the bible.

        Most of my visitors are former Christians ( I never was ) and the consensus seems to be , no they cannot be objective as such objectivity will mean that they cannot consider such things as the Resurrection as an historical event.

        Liked by 1 person

        • In principle I disagree with you. It should make no difference to a historian whether the resurrection actually happened (unless, as I said above, we are writing a book about it… in which case, by the way, it still would make no difference, for who could gainsay whatever you wrote?)

          But… that was “in principle”. As they say: in theory there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is.
          And there is no topic as emotionally laden as religion.
          To be objective, you have to keep emotions from affecting your good judgement. And that could well be difficult – for the agnostic as well as for the religous, if you consider it – when dealing with this topic.

          So, would it be possible? Yes, of course – most things are possible.
          But would it be easy? No. 😉


          • Which is why such objectivity is well nigh impossible for a historian if they are also Christian.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Quite. But also, I would say, it would be equally impossible for the agnostic historian. Even if said historian would be totally uninterested in religion at all, the sheer potential – the media hype, the fame and fortune dangling tantalisingly in front of him/her – would probably preclude any real objectivity in the matter.
              Remember the hype and uproar around the Turin Shroud? And that was before we had any real issues with “fake news” …


              • Perhaps. But the Christian always enters into such research with a priori bias. The resurrection is THE fundamental tenet of Christian faith.
                Even someone suc as NT Wright who accepts the gospel authors are unknown considers the Resurrection to be an historical event – or, if not, he accepts it on faith as an historical event and merely compartmentalizes, which means he is not being truly honest or objective.

                Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree good dictatorship will beat a democracy any time but chances of turning to bad dictatorship is high,power intoxicates.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yes, I quite agree Mercy. Power intoxicates – and it corrupts.
      No, we cannot trust anyone with that power.

      Which is exactly why the US constitution specified “checks and balances” on the powers of government. The same checks and balances, which are currently restraining Trump – and which he is doing his damned best to break down and remove…



  1. A Tale of Two Cookies – Economics 101 – Northern Dragon

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